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Save more, spend less and get in shape

Editor’s note: The following is a blog entry for “Sense and Centsibility” that appears on the Echo Press website under Areavoices. It is written by Ashley Hagelin with Lutheran Social Services Financial Counseling.

Right after vowing to “save more and spend less” you will see “get in shape” on many New Year’s Resolution lists. The truth is these two resolutions go hand in hand. Making some healthy changes to your life can not only help you get in shape, they can improve your saving and spending habits as well. Here are some tips for tackling both resolutions at the same time and making 2014 a success.

Planning healthy meals is the best way to control what you spend at the grocery store. Controlling what you eat will keep you on track for a healthy lifestyle. Here are just some of the benefits:

• When you plan out your meals you only buy what you need at the grocery store, reducing what you spend on impulse items, which are usually higher in fat and calories.

• When you buy only what you need for your planned meals, you reduce the amount of food that you waste.

• You can plan quick meals for busy days to minimize the urge to order pizza or grab fast food. This will save your bottom line in more ways than one.

• Packing a lunch for work will also save you money and calories. Bonus: if you aren’t going out for lunch, you might have some time to take a walk instead.

• You always know what’s for dinner and the ingredients so you can stick to a healthy diet.

Exercise is the other half of the healthy equation. For some, the struggle is the cost of a gym membership and for others it is finding the time. So here are some ways to get your daily exercise in with very little time and zero cost and you might even save a little.

• If you belong to a gym, you may get a rebate on your health insurance premium so check with your provider to see. This does usually require that you go to the gym a certain number of times per week. If you aren’t meeting that requirement, you may want to think of some alternate ways to get your exercise if you don’t feel you are using the membership enough to make it worth it.

• Look at your commute. Can you walk or bike at least a couple times a week? This would save you money and jump start your day. If you have to drive, take a look at parking options. If you can find parking that is less expensive but a few blocks away, you can save money and get a walk in every morning and afternoon. Start a running or walking club. Having people to exercise with keeps you accountable and it’s just more fun. You have someone to support you and you can share in each other’s successes. Bonus: every time you go for a walk or run you boost your immune system for 24 hours. Take family game night outside. Not only will you have some fun with the family while getting some exercise but you are setting a good example for your children. If you have pets, get them outside too because exercise for pets is just as important. A healthy pet means less vet bills.

• Bored with your yoga or workout videos? We all have them, even if they haven’t been used in many moons. So set up a time to swap yours with a friend or co-worker. This is a great way to keep your at home workouts fun.

• Go online. There is a cross-fit craze out there and most of the workouts can be done at home with little or no equipment needed. From the searching I did, I found out there are workouts for beginners, intermediate, and advanced for crazy people.

We all have good days and bad so be kind to yourself. If you have a bad day, don’t let it ruin your week, month or year. Just start fresh the next day and get back on track for a healthier you.

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